The US has some of the most widely known sports professional leagues on a global scale, and by far, the NFL is the most lucrative and followed high-profile league there. American football offers ample betting opportunities, which goes to explain why it is increasingly popular among punters.

Placing bets on the NFL can be profitable but this is not possible without learning the fundamentals of the sport. Once punters have learned the basics of the sport, they should move to its specifics, like the different bet types they can decide between, in order to ensure that they can enter into the betting action on the right foot.

Also known as the traditional way of betting on sports, point spread betting is one of the most chosen ways of wagering on the National Football League. The point spread undoubtedly keeps matches interesting, even when it comes to games in which strong teams match up against weak ones.

In simple terms, this is the line, which is set by bookmakers about an upcoming NFL game, which shows the margin of victory of the contending teams. Point spread betting might be a far more thrilling way of wagering on sports, especially if punters are not keen on the idea of simply picking the outright winner of the match.

Even though the numbers might look confusing at first, and total novices might think that there is no rhyme or reason to them, point spread bets can actually be placed in a walk, given that punters learn their intricacies.

What Is Point Spread in NFL

Simply put, the point spread is the estimated margin of victory of one of the contending teams over the other one. Point spreads are introduced not only when betting on the NFL but when placing bets on the NBA, as well. Yet, point spreads have their analog in other major US leagues, including the NHL and MLB. When the National Hockey League is concerned, the spread is referred to as a goal line or puck, while in baseball, it is known as a run line.

The point spread is introduced to ensure that the betting action a match attracts will not be one-sided as, in practice, it balances games between unbalanced NFL teams. This is achieved by adding or removing points from the final result of the teams.

It is worth noting, however, that some NFL betting sites tend to offer point spreads not only for the entire matches but for certain parts of them as well. Thus, gambling aficionados might come across odds for the first half or the first quarter. Most of the time, such betting opportunities are only available when punters go for in-game betting. Even if NFL bettors decide to go for this way of placing bets on their match of choice, they will once again need to decide whether the team they want to place a bet on will trail or lead by the number of points the bookmaker has introduced once the unit of time goes by.

Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys 1st Half Betting Odds

Philadelphia Eagles-2.5-110
Dallas Cowboys+2.5-110

Gambling enthusiasts should keep in mind that there is no set value for the point spread, and while placing bets on the NFL, it can start from 0.5 and run into a double-digit number. Yet, because of the type of scoring, the most widely available spreads are three and seven. The standard number, which is used in other sports, however, is 1.5.

Before they place a spread bet, punters should always invest some time in looking around the different NFL betting sites to compare the spreads they offer for the preferred match. Thus, gambling aficionados might find better lines, which, in practice, can give them an edge.

What punters should keep in mind is that when the contending teams have very close talent levels, they will see that the spread winds up on the smaller side.

Gambling enthusiasts will recognize underdogs by the positive sign they have next to their odds, and this should show them that the spread will be added to their score, thus determining whether bets win or lose. The favorite in the game is indicated through a negative sign, which should show punters that when the result is determined, they will have the preset number of points removed from their score.

As one might expect, point spread bets can have several outcomes, as they can win, lose, or end in a tie. Thus, if punters’ bets land on the point spread, gambling enthusiasts will have the staked amount refunded. On some occasions, such bets might be canceled altogether. In order to avoid such scenarios, bookmakers attach hooks or half points to the point spread.

NFL bettors should also know that most bookmakers will allow them to incorporate point spread bets into parlay bets, and usually, they can be added together with totals and moneylines, but this only depends on the chosen sportsbook. No matter the point spread punters will add to their parlay bet or the other legs they will combine them with, all selections need to hit in order for their parlay bet to be a winning one.

Point Spread Bets Odds Explained

While inspecting the odds bookmakers have introduced for their NFL game of choice, punters will notice that along with the spread, there is yet another number. Depending on the odds format sports bettors have picked, this number will usually be -110 if American odds are used and 1.91 if the decimal odds display is set.

No matter the format gambling aficionados will go for, these odds will show them what price they are laying together with the point spread. Thus, in either case, they need to stake $110 to potentially get $100.

As punters might already know, each time they place a bet, they pay a fee to the bookmaker for accepting this wager, and this commission is known as vig or juice. Thus, whenever they bet on the NFL, they should not expect to break even simply because the payouts bookmakers introduce for the two teams will not be even.

Punters should be mindful that although this is the industry standard vig or juice, some bookmakers might alter it, which will have an impact on their breakeven point as well. While most bookmakers will move the juice up, it is not excluded to see betting platforms where the commission is reduced, and once again, punters will stand the chance to get $100, but with reduced risk.

Although it is a rarity, gambling enthusiasts might come across NFL betting sites that offer spreads at -105 or even -100, which obviously puts them at an advantage. In fact, one of the key reasons why the point spread bets are one of the most preferred ways of betting on American football is that punters can benefit from the lowest commission when compared to any other NFL market. Thus, the amount, which is paid back to punters as winnings will be higher than with other bet types they can go for.

One more reason why NFL points spreads are such an appealing option for punters is that oftentimes, they offer some truly lucrative opportunities, especially to those who are willing to bet bigger. In fact, on most occasions, point spread bets offer considerably higher bet limits when compared to other NFL markets.

While betting on the NFL, punters might have stumbled upon the term pick’em, which is often shortened to pick or just pk. This term is used to describe games in which the teams are so close that none of them is favored. In such cases, no point spread can be introduced, and the moneyline for both contending teams will coincide. If this is the case, gambling enthusiasts will simply be required to pick the team they think is more likely to win the game.

How to Place Point Spread Bets

As we said already, point spread bets are most commonly used while wagering on American football and basketball, and no matter which sports punters are interested in, they should know that the spread works in the exact same way. This is to say that bookmakers will designate an underdog and a favorite and will then add a point spread to the odds.

Kansas City Chiefs+6.5-110
New England Patriots-6.5-110

As punters can see, in this game, the New England Patriots are big favorites, and if they want to place a bet on this team, they will get a payout if the Patriots win the game by 7 points at the least. If punters wish to have a flutter on Kansas City Chiefs, they will get a payout, provided that the team succeeds in keeping the margin to six points or less.

Cleveland Browns+2.5-110
Pittsburgh Steelers-2.5-110

Now, let’s take a look at a match between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. In this game, the Cleveland Browns are the underdog, while Pittsburgh Steelers are the favorite. As it becomes apparent from the spread, the game between these two teams is expected to be tight since the bookmaker has chosen to set it at less than a field goal. Thus, if we assume that the underdog indeed loses the game, but they manage to cover the spread, punters who have made a bet on Cleveland Browns will be in for a payout.

Betting Against the Spread Explained

Gambling enthusiasts might have already heard other bettors say that a team has covered the spread or that they have placed bets against the spread. On either occasion, they mean that the underdog in the match has won with extra points or that the favorite has triumphed in the game after the point spread is considered. In spite of the fact that these two phrases are often used interchangeably, there is a small difference, which is worth mentioning. Covering the spread means that the underdog in the game will win by more points than the point spread or that the favorite wins the game with the given number of points.

To put it simply, when betting against the spread, gambling enthusiasts are wagering on the spread itself, as opposed to other NFL markets like moneyline, for example. Thus, if we assume that punters place a bet on the underdog and that team loses the game, but by fewer points than the preset value, we will say that they have won against the spread.

In other words, the favorite is required to win the game by more points than the set point spread in order for punters’ bet on that team to be a winning one. The underdog, on the other hand, must not lose the game by a number of points, which is greater than the spread in order for bets on that team to bring a payout.

Cleveland Browns+7.5-110
Pittsburgh Steelers-7.5-110

Let’s take a look at a game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. In this scenario, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the favorites, which means that they will lay points or, in other words, 7.5 points will be taken away from their final score in order to determine whether bets placed on that team win. If they still have more points than the underdog after the spread is subtracted from their result, we will say that the Pittsburgh Steelers have covered the spread. In this case, the Pittsburgh Steelers will cover the spread if they win the game by 8 points at the least.

Cleveland Browns are the underdog in this match, which is the reason why instead of laying points, they will have such added to their final result. Thus, they will cover the spread if they have more points than the Pittsburgh Steelers after the extra points are added to their final score. Bets on Cleveland Browns will be winning ones, on the condition that the team does not lose the game by more than 8 points.

While betting against the spread, gambling enthusiasts tend to use the ATS record of their team of choice in order to get an idea about the way they perform. This information can help NFL bettors figure out how often the team has managed to cover the spread during the last season, which might be of use with their current decisions.

Why the Point Spread Moves

If punters follow closely the odds and the point spread for the match they are about to place a bet on, they might see that oftentimes, numbers change. NFL bettors should be aware that there are various factors that might cause these adjustments, and first and foremost, these changes might be brought about by the betting activity this market gets.

The primary cause for the point spread movement remains the bets that come in for either of the contending teams as oftentimes, the betting action might become one-sided. To deal with such situations, bookmakers will adjust the betting line to restore the balance between the teams.

There might be many other reasons why the spread shifts, and this movement might come as a result of the weather, injuries, and others. Detecting such moves can work to the advantage of gambling enthusiasts as they can hint to them what other NFL bettors think about the way the game will pan out.

Depending on the direction in which the spread moves and the time when gambling aficionados wrap up their bets, such wagers might turn out to be quite profitable or put them at a disadvantage.

How Can NFL Bettors Handicap Point Spreads

One of the most common mistakes inexperienced sports bettors make is that the betting decisions they take are predominantly determined by their gut feeling rather than their knowledge. And this is exactly where handicapping comes into play as it leaves guessing while betting on sports out of question.

Giving a concise definition of sports handicapping is rather challenging as this is a combination between techniques and processes, thanks to which punters will be able to make smarter betting decisions. In other words, while using this technique, NFL bettors will attempt to assess what is going to happen during the match they are about to bet on, or, on some occasions, even during the entire season.

In simple terms, when NFL bettors are looking to handicap point spreads, they should pay attention to all factors that might have an impact on the way the match they are about to wager on will pan out. Thus, gambling aficionados can make smarter bets if they examine the power rankings of the teams, the strength of the contending teams, as well as their home-field advantage. Comparing the performance of the contending teams on a statistical level can also turn out to be quite useful for NFL bettors.

Along with the yards for and against, NFL bettors are also advised to check how well the contending teams have performed in the last few games. Reading reports of the games, getting proper knowledge of the coaches, the teams, and the players might also do the trick for gambling enthusiasts.

It is worth noting, however, that NFL bettors are free to add other variables to the list of things they should look into before they go ahead with their NFL bets.

Things to Consider when Placing NFL Point Spread Bets

There is lots of information about the things NFL bettors can do in order to get the most out of their betting session, and one of the most essential things total novices should remember is that line shopping undoubtedly makes the difference.

No matter if punters are only interested in wagering on American football or they have a liking for other sports as well, this is a piece of advice they can and should apply at all times. What line shopping is all about is simply comparing the odds for one and the same event at multiple betting sites prior to putting down your money. Although the difference in spreads might not be that considerable at first glance, this difference can be the factor that will determine whether punters’ bet wins or loses. Line shopping will have an impact on punters’ results in the long term, as even the slightest difference in the odds adds up over time.

Punters should be rather selective when it comes to the NFL games they will bet on. In spite of the fact that American football does not offer such a great variety of games like soccer, for example, this is not to say that they should have a flutter on each event. Doing so without identifying value or being confident how the game will pan out rarely brings punters the desired results.

Lastly, NFL bettors should have a good understanding of the various factors that can have an impact on the matches. As gambling aficionados already know, there are plenty of ways to wager on American football, and, while some markets can be described as less challenging, others are hard ones to call, especially if punters do not know the factors that can affect the game outcomes.

Many fans of American football and other sports bet on their favorite sport without putting a great deal of thought into this simply because they focus more on the enjoyment they get out of their betting session rather than their returns. In spite of the fact that sometimes, this approach might bring punters a payout, just taking a look at the point spread is not enough to make good judgments of the game and how it will play out.

What NFL bettors should not forget is that while setting the lines, bookmakers base their decisions on various factors, including the team quality, the quality of the individual players, the coaches, their consistency, together with schedules, the weather, injuries, how they perform recently, as well as the stadium where the game will be played, among others. The playing style of the teams also matters, and looking over this information for the contending teams can undoubtedly give gambling enthusiasts a better idea of how the match might potentially pan out. is a media website dedicated to sports news and reviews of the most popular sports betting sites. Here you will find comprehensive guides on where to bet on football, tennis, NBA, NFL and information about the most popular betting deposit methods.